Advanced Cataract Surgery Transforms a Patient’s Life

Loma Linda University Eye Institute is giving people like Linda Grimm the chance to see again.

Molly Smith, Loma Linda University Health
Advanced Cataract Surgery Transforms a Patient’s Life
Linda and Fred Grimm, who have been married for 63 years. [Photo: courtesy of Linda and Fred Grimm]

Linda Grimm, 82, a retired teacher burdened by advanced cataracts that left her nonfunctional for years, found herself on a journey toward a life-altering transformation through bilateral cataract surgery performed by the skilled hands of Michael Rauser, chair of the Loma Linda University Eye Institute.

Grimm’s journey began in 2012 when she retired from teaching, a decision influenced by the gradual deterioration of her eyesight. Over the next three years, her vision worsened until she reached a point that she could barely see anything. With a free schedule and unable to drive, Grimm faced the challenges of navigating her world in darkness.

“We kept floor lamps at each doorway so I could have an idea of where I was,” Grimm said. “I was very nervous about walking anywhere, because I was afraid I was going to fall down.”

The turning point came when Rauser, a beacon of hope in Grimm’s life, performed the bilateral cataract surgery that would redefine her reality.

“She was functionally blind in both eyes. I couldn’t see in the back of either eye because the cataracts were so thick,” Rauser said.

Cataracts, a common ophthalmic condition, affect a substantial portion of the global population, particularly as individuals age. According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 65 million people worldwide suffer from moderate to severe visual impairment due to untreated cataracts. Rauser says, left unaddressed, cataracts can progressively worsen, leading to a significant decline in visual acuity and quality of life.

Cataract surgery is a delicate and sophisticated procedure aimed at restoring vision impaired by clouded lenses. Typically performed on an outpatient basis, the surgery involves the removal of the cloudy lens (cataract) from the eye and its replacement with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). The surgeon makes a small incision in the peripheral cornea and uses ultrasound energy to break up the cloudy lens, which is then suctioned out. Once removed, the surgeon inserts the IOL, carefully positioning it to restore clear vision.

Rauser performed the first procedure on Grimm’s right eye in June of 2023 and on her left eye in August. He said cataract surgery typically takes 10 to 15 minutes, but Grimm’s case was so advanced he allowed for more than 30 minutes per procedure.

Often, the surgery is performed one eye at a time, considering factors like the complexity of the case and minimizing the risk of complications. Patients typically experience significant visual improvement shortly after the procedure, making cataract surgery one of the most common and successful interventions in ophthalmic care.

The Joys of New Sight

Grimm’s gratitude is palpable as she describes the overwhelming moment when the patch was removed and she could see again. A video captured the raw emotions of that moment, showcasing the tears in her husband’s eyes and the joyous exclamation, “Glory to God and Dr. Rauser.”

She says she woke up the morning after surgery and looked out her window to find seven wild bighorn sheep, an endangered species, on the mountain behind her Palm Springs home, a moment she would have missed without getting surgery on her eyes.

A mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, Grimm said a lot changed in the three years cataracts took over her sight.

“My children are older, they didn’t change much, but their kids change a lot in three years, so it was a gift to see how they’ve grown,” Grimm said. “Getting my sight back is like yesterday, today, and forever.”

As a woman of faith, Grimm attributes her miracle to the divine alignment of circumstances. Loma Linda University Health’s commitment to faith-based healing resonates with Grimm’s values. “I felt safe and cared for,” she said. “From the initial examinations to the surgery and beyond, I received kindness and dedication.”

The original version of this story was posted on the Loma Linda University Health news site.

Molly Smith, Loma Linda University Health